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Rosie Frihart

  • Hosted by Children's Law Center of California
  • Sponsored by Greenberg Traurig, LLP
  • Service location Los Angeles, California
  • Law school University of Southern California Gould School of Law
  • Issue area Children/Youth
  • Fellowship class year 2020
  • Program Design-Your-Own Fellowship

The Project

Rosie fought for foster youth who have developmental disabilities to receive the services to which they were entitled by acting as a legal advocate for those children and training other attorneys to do the same.

In California, developmentally disabled individuals are entitled to state-funded services through non-profits called “Regional Centers.” Though foster youth are statistically more likely to have developmental disabilities than youth who are not court-involved, many experience barriers preventing access to Regional Center services—services that could help foster youth reunite with their families, avoid placement instability, and achieve personal goals. To address these barriers, Rosie partnered with the Children’s Law Center of California to ensure youth received crucial, life-long services.

Through her experiences as a teacher and as a law student, Rosie came to understand the unique barriers that prevent foster children from accessing appropriate services. Her Fellowship aimed to break those barriers down.

Fellowship Highlights

During the two-year Fellowship, Rosie:
  • Advised dependency attorneys, caregivers, and Court-Appointed Special Advocates on how to support the needs of over 400 foster youth with developmental disabilities; these consultations covered issues as varied as establishing eligibility, appropriate services, Regional Center service plans, termination of eligibility, and more
  • Provided 13 trainings to dependency attorneys, investigators, and case managers, with nearly 400 attendees in total
  • Created a disability-focused committee of dependency attorneys, investigators, and case managers to discuss and address the unique barriers preventing foster youth from receiving Regional Center services
  • Filed 15 administrative appeals regarding a youth’s eligibility for regional center services, with more than 80% resulting in eligibility for the client

Next Steps

Children’s Law Center of California will make the advocacy provided by this project a permanent part of its practice, and Rosie will continue in the position. She plans to expand the scope of the program to include other forms of disability advocacy in addition to Regional Center advocacy.

Foster children with developmental disabilities are perhaps our most vulnerable population. Not only do these children have developmental disabilities, but many have also suffered the trauma of abuse, neglect, and removal from the only home they have ever known.

Rosie Frihart /
2020 Equal Justice Works Fellow

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